Deutsche Lufthansa AG Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr asked customers for patience as he grapples with the longest strike in the airline’s history, saying the future of all employees is at stake as he seeks to find a compromise with pilots demanding to preserve benefits.

“I’m asking for your trust in what is the longest strike in our corporate history and for your understanding as this affects your personal travel plans,” Spohr, himself a pilot, said in a video message posted by the carrier today. “I’m also asking for your understanding that management is responsible for 120,000 employees, not just some 5,000 pilots. We want to offer quality services and be able to invest in the future.”

Pilots on long-haul planes from Frankfurt, Lufthansa’s main hub, won’t fly today, causing 58 long-haul canceled flights in the seventh day of walkouts this year. Lufthansa said it managed to operate just over half of intercontinental flights planned for today with pilots who volunteered to fly.

Lufthansa and flight deck crews have spent months haggling over bridge financing to cover compensation between the time the flight captains leave and their official retirement age. The strikes have reduced profit by about 100 million euros ($129 million) so far this year and resulted in cancellation of more than 4,400 flights, Lufthansa has said.

“In order to prevent further hardship on passengers, Lufthansa has to come up with an offer that is negotiable, or else we will be forced to further action in the not so distant future,” Markus Wahl, a board member of the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots union, said in an interview on N24.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at

Photo Credit: File photo of a Lufthansa Airbus 380 approaching Frankfurt airport. Ralph Orlowski / Reuters